Water for the Thirsty
Weekly Devotional

Water for the Thirsty

Engaging with the Bible

Weekly Devotional

‘As the deer pants for streams of water so my soul pants for you, O God’. (Psalm 42:1)
‘…Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink”…’ (John 7:37)

In Acts 17:11 the Bereans are described as a group of people who ‘examined the Scriptures every day’, and with good reason for as Paul tells us, ‘There's nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God's way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us’. (2 Timothy 3:16. The Message) Here are just a few ways we could engage with the Word of God:

1. Discuss the Word

Discussions about meaning, interpretations, doctrinal substance, and even sheer trivia can be a productive means of engaging the Word and driving it more deeply into our hearts. Why not choose a friend and a passage and jump in! I remember the scene in the film Dead Poets Society when the boarding school students sneaked out of their dormitories and met in their secret location to recite verse written by poets that had long since died. They did it with such passion and expression that it made you feel like you wanted to find their hideout and join the society yourself. Scripture can be so powerfully communicated when we read and discuss it with one another. A “Scripture Reading Society” could be every bit as exciting as a Dead Poets club—and then some!

2. Study the Word

Study of the Word calls for a close examination through multiple approaches. Analyse the grammar. Observe the facts. Find parallels. Note the verb tenses. Consult commentaries. Investigate the original languages. Compare with other Scriptures. Ask someone else for insight into a passage. Do a ‘word’ study. Do a character study. Investigate a passage using the approach of “Observe, Interpret, and Apply.” There are so many different and exciting ways we can study Scripture.

3. Personalise the Word

Personalisation of the Word simply has to happen or something is missing. Whether by reading or recitation, it’s exhilarating to insert your name into a passage. For instance:

  • “For God so loved Frank!” (John 3:16)
  • “What shall Susan say? Shall she go on sinning that grace may increase? By no means! Susan has died to sin!” (Romans 6:1)
  • “Even Dennis grows tired and weary and young men stumble and fall. But as Dennis hopes in the Lord, he will renew Dennis’ strength. He will mount up on wings like eagles!” (Isaiah 40:30–31)

4. Sing the Word

There are those who are musically gifted and there are those who can play the radio.

However, don’t allow any limited gifting in music to rob you of the richness of God’s Word put to music. Enjoy singing Scripture songs to yourself. They maybe Christian songs or hymns you can sing along to. One of my favourite tunes is from Lamentations 3: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning. Great is Thy faithfulness O Lord. Great is they faithfulness!” Or you could even improvise a tune here and there in the privacy of your own car or home. Somehow God has ordained a power in music that, when combined with Scripture, penetrates a heart like nothing else can. The dynamic combination of Scripture and music are two elements that should be brought together as often as possible.

5. Share the Word

What would it do for your own Scripture focus if you were to give away one Bible verse to a different person over the next 30 days? It would be interesting to try. I was once on a residential course where someone left a card with a Scripture on it under the door. The personal touch brought the verse to life and you feel like you have received a personal message from God himself. We grow deeper as we share the Word with others as it engages us in the Word ourselves.

6. Do the Word!

Perhaps the most critical of all means of engaging the Word is doing it. James laments the vanity of hearing and not doing it (1:23) and Jesus stipulates in Matthew 7 that “putting it into practice” is the requirement for building a house that will withstand the storms of life. Hearing and not doing the Word injures our own soul and undermines our testimony with those who have yet to believe; it leaves us with no credibility. So, when we engage with the Bible and find ourselves in conflict with it—we must move from where we are to where the Scripture is. Micah 6:8 says that God requires us to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with him. What’s the last act of justice for the oppressed in our world that you performed? When is the last time you exercised mercy on someone who needed compassion or forgiveness? Is your life marked by humility? Here in this one verse are several opportunities to “do the Word” as you walk with God through life’s journey.

What about Busy Schedules?

Now it’s all fine and good to identify ways to engage the Bible. However, it begs the question, “What about the fast pace of life and busy schedules?” The answer to this lies in the priorities we set. It is possible to spend time in the Word just as it is possible to watch TV, write emails, surf the web, eat food, and mow the lawn. Clear prioritisation and motivation can foster the discipline that leads to consistent Bible engagement. We know that if we fail to eat enough protein and vitamins and simply consume pounds of sugar a day, we’ll reap the health consequences. The same is true of our spiritual diet. We need to forego the various forms of ‘junk food’ that creep into our schedules like excessive game shows, reality TV, chat rooms, and magazines and choose activities that are best for our souls. Engaging in the Bible is the clearest way to take an inside look into the mind of God, discover his thoughts, and join with his heart. Jesus says in John 17:3 that the definition of eternal life is ‘knowing God’. For those who believe, it’s already started. And there is no better way to know God and experience life than through meditation on his Word.

Have a good week engaging with God’s Word.

Pastor Barry

2nd August 2009

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